Book Review: Herc by Phoenicia Rogerson

About the Book:

Title: Herc

Author: Phoenicia Rogerson

Page Length: 384

Publication Date: Sept. 5, 2023

Synopsis: This should be the story of Hercules: his twelve labours, his endless adventures…everyone’s favourite hero, right?

Well, it’s not.

This is the story of everyone else:

Alcmene: Herc’s mother (She has knives everywhere)

Hylas: Herc’s first friend (They were more than friends)

Megara: Herc’s wife (She’ll tell you about their marriage)

Eurystheus: Oversaw Herc’s labours (Definitely did not hide in a jar)

His friends, his enemies, his wives, his children, his lovers, his rivals, his gods, his victims.

It’s time to hear their stories.

Told with humour and heart, Herc gives voice to the silenced characters, in this feminist, queer (and sometimes shocking) retelling of classic Hercules myth.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

Herc is a unique retelling of Hercules told through the people around him. It’s not a story of his twelve labors or his endless adventures but is instead a story of how Hercules’s actions impacted those around him. Told from a multitude of perspectives, but never from his own, Herc reveals the man behind the heroic reputation. His parents, friends, wife, lovers, kings, and more have stories to tell and many are irrevocably changed by Hercules influence. It was interesting to have so many different points of view, each with a distinct voice and perspective.

Rogerson creates a layered and complicated, whole protagonist through other people’s anecdotes, which I found fascinating. Never do we get his perspective, and he is not always shed in the best light. This is no watered-down Disney version. Instead, it’s a much darker story of the hero, and he doesn’t seem like a hero at all. I like that the story doesn’t shy away from some of the more brutal and horrific actions of Hercules. Instead, we read of the good and bad of Hercules from reliable and biased sources and see a flawed, complex, and layered man who is quite different from the hero often depicted in literature and film.

I was a bit surprised by the more modern language used. It was different and unexpected, and though it sometimes took me out of the story a bit, I generally liked it. There is some wit and humor as well, which I enjoyed. I also liked the pacing. The chapters aren’t overly long, and the constant switch in perspectives made it flow well. However, I could see some readers struggle with so many perspectives. Luckily, the book includes a glossary at the end for reference.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.



Favorite Parts:

  • The unique and varied perspectives.
  • The strong voices.

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